One of the most exciting parts of our Namibia trip was getting the opportunity to go kayaking with seals in Walvis Bay, Namibia. In this post, I want to tell you a little bit more about that experience so hopefully one day you can enjoy the same amazing encounter!
I came upon Eco Marine Kayak Tours while researching things to do in and around Swakopmund. We would be spending three days in the area and I was on the look out for once in a life time activities – things I wouldn’t be able to do at home. In numerous other vlogs, blogs, and review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor I kept seeing the same thing – you’ve gotta go kayak with the seals. 5-star experience. The best thing we did. So I decided it was a must-do for our trip too!
Booking was super easy – I just emailed the company and enquired about availability. They immediately confirmed and booked us into a tour.
The Morning Of – Kayaking with Seals!
When the day finally came when we were in Swakopmund and ready for our kayak tour, we woke up early. The tour was to depart at 8 am from Walvis Bay which is about 35 minutes or so beyond Swakopmund. We had debated staying the night before in Walvis Bay but chose against it. We actually asked the advice of the Eco Marine representative we were emailing with and they had advised us to stay in Swakopmund as it is less industrial than Walvis Bay.
Arriving in Walvis Bay that morning, we easily found our meeting spot, a little cafe on the edge of the water. There were numerous tours meeting at the spot, but a helpful guide was directing people to their particular groups so no one got lost. We found our guides Kevin and Graham with no problem.
Getting to the Seals
In order to go kayaking with the seals, you have to get to the seals. The seal colony lives around Pelican Point, about 40km from the cafe meeting point. The driving is not appropriate for all vehicles so Kevin and Graham had us and our other tour members (maybe 8 to 10 in total) load up into their two specialty vans.
As we drove to Pelican Point. Kevin and Graham (in their respective vehicles), kept up a steady and friendly chatter with us. I must admit I am not a morning person and I think my shocked to be awake stupefaction was probably not the most pleasant – but it didn’t bother them one bit! We were treated to an outpouring of really interesting information about the area, its population, its wildlife, and history. All from a local’s perspective which is priceless!
Soon we arrived at Pelican Point and we were all instantly amazed. The landscape was utterly covered – covered! – in seals. Big and small, they were everywhere! What was even better – we were the only tour group in this particular area so it really felt like we had nature to ourselves.
Time to Go Kayaking with Seals!
Graham and Kevin got the kayaks unloaded and prepped quickly while we dressed in the provided waterproof jackets, pants, and gloves. They also set up a little bathroom area for us in case anyone needed to use it, which was thoughtful.
The kayaks were all double occupancy and basic – Graham and Kevin gave everyone a quick review how to operate them but it wasn’t really needed. More important was their instructions on attracting the seals – make lots of noise! Sing, call, talk – the seals are very curious and will come quite close to investigate. Especially the young ones.
As we moved out into the water we noticed this was true. We were immediately surrounded by curious seals coming to get a look at us. They had a funny way of flipping upside down – tails sticking out of the water – and eyeballing us. Graham and Kevin said this helps them feel safer until they are more comfortable with you. Once they decide you aren’t a threat, they venture closer and will nibble at your hands or brush up against the kayaks.
The really lucky people get to give belly rubs! Seals that are feeling safe and friendly will come up next to the kayaks and flip over to allow you to scratch their bellies! I was allowed hand nibbles and small pats but my travel partner, Zandt, was lucky enough to be allowed a short belly rub.
We spent around 2 hours kayaking I would say – and it went by too fast! Having all the seals swimming around was such an amazing experience. As we happily paddled around and called to the seals, Graham and Kevin took pictures for everyone and chatted about the seals. Every single member of our group was left amazed and delighted.
After our time in the water was up, we very reluctantly docked the kayaks and stripped out of our gear. While we were doing this Graham and Kevin unpacked lunch! We had sandwiches, drinks and coffee. I can’t tell you how exquisite my simple avocado sandwich tasted after kayaking for 2 hours! While it wasn’t strenuous, it did burn some calories and after such an early morning I was hungry! It was a great touch from Eco Marine.
After lunch, the kayaks were loaded and we began the trip back. We made one pit stop along the way at the local salt pans. I didn’t even know these existed and it was fascinating to find out how much salt is produced here! We got to see the pans close up and even pick up a few crystals alongside the road.
Soon after the salt pans, we were back at our starting point. Graham and Kevin went above and beyond for us here. Apparently, my phone wasn’t receiving calls properly and I missed their request that we pay in cash (their payment equipment was having trouble). Very kindly, they drove us into Walvis Bay proper a bit to find an ATM and also asked around for a new sim card for me. We really appreciated their help and flexibility.
Overall – this tour, kayaking with seals, was phenomenal! It is probably one of the best wildlife encounters I have had (Etosha being the main competitor) and Kevin and Graham were amazing guides. If you find yourselves in the area this is an absolute must!